Pavlov's Daughter

One Monday a couple of weeks ago, maybe ten minutes after I’d got home, the phone rang. It was my father.
“Now, don’t worry, but…”

That phrase guarantees a Pavlovian response.
It would seem that my father had woken up and found himself on the floor, unable to get up and with no recollection of how he got there. After a couple of hours, he’d managed to drag himself to his front door and get the attention of a neighbour. It had shaken him a bit, but he ignored it until he woke up a couple of days later unable to get out of bed. He was phoning to let me know he’d got himself an alarm button and a key safe, so if a stranger were to call me about him, not to be worried.
My father is not a likeable man. He is also not a good man (for several reasons, none of which I want to go into here). As a combination, it’s probably fair to say he is isolated and for the most part, that’s not a bad thing.  I speak to him a scant twice a year, and even then I feel angsty. Nonetheless, I don’t want to ever receive the phone call telling me my father’s remains have been found in an advanced state of decomposition, so in part I felt an immediate sense of relief (at least someone will be checking in on him) and the kidney punch of guilt (it’s supposed to be me).
Continuing with my reluctant daughterly responsibilities, I asked him if he’d seen a doctor. No, he said, he hadn’t. The Pavlovian worry thing kicked in once more - because of course temporary paralysis and memory loss are perfectly normal things to experience! Why would anyone want to see a doctor about those? I did my best to convince him to see a doctor. He reluctantly agreed. I asked that he let me know what the doctor said. He promised he would. I put down the phone and sat for a bit, contemplating what the hell I should be doing. Should I be doing more? Should I be doing anything at all? Is there really a should in this?
A few days later and still he hasn’t phoned, so I call him. He sounds frail and wavering. He’s not pleased to hear from me. I ask if he’s seen a doctor and he says he has, but I’m not convinced. I ask what the doctor says and he says nothing much. He needs to lose weight. And that he might have “a touch of Parkinson’s”.
This sets alarm bells ringing. My medical knowledge is as good as any online hypochondriac, but even I know that if you are suspected of having developed Parkinson’s disease it is not generally diagnosed as “a touch.” I ask further questions; any tests or assessments planned, follow up appointments, can you still drive? The answers? No, no and yes. I am now more certain than before he hasn’t seen a doctor, or if he has, the doctor is in idiot. He ends the conversation hurriedly and I am stuck with another round of what should I be doing? whirling in my head.
Another few days pass and I get home to a message on the answering machine: “Hello, I’m calling from Community Alarms. It’s about Dad…” My heart sinks.
My immediate response is, “-whose dad? Yours? Mine? The man has a name: calling him “Dad” is making a whole heap of assumptions I don’t really want to debunk right now. Who trained you not to use a person’s name? To attribute them to a role that they may or may not fulfil?” This makes me angrier than I could have imagined. I have no idea why that of all things is making me angry.
The news isn’t quite as bad as I’d immediately feared, but nevertheless worrying. He’d used the alarm service three times in a day, unable to get up and feeling dizzy and shaky so was waiting for a non- emergency ambulance. Might be a few hours. Not to worry.
Still, I phone my father and he’s still waiting. He doesn’t want to talk about it. He hangs up quickly.
What should I be doing?
My father phones me later to let me know that they’re not keeping him in, he needs to eat more regularly, maybe speak with the doctor about side effects to the new medication he’s been put on (yes, he’d missed that bit out each time I’d asked ). He’ll be sleeping in his chair tonight as he pulled the curtain rail off when he fell. He’s fine. No need to worry. Yes, of course he’ll see a doctor. He’ll keep in touch.
That was over a week ago and no word. I know I could call, but I still don’t know if I should.
Needless to say I am, of course, still worried.